Pacific FC tells its fans to hang in there

A novel virus has meant novel ways of keeping in touch with fans in the sports world.

Pacific FC players have sent out a total of 1,500 individually-personalized video messages to season ticket holders and sponsors.

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“Everyone is struggling and we just wanted to tell our fans that we miss them,” said PFC captain Marcel de Jong.

“Soccer without the fans is nothing. We miss them as much as they miss us.”

The postponement of the start of the 2020 Canadian Premier League season — PFC was scheduled to open April 11 against FC Edmonton at Westhills Stadium in Langford — has been especially hard on the 56-time Canada capped de Jong.

The six-season pro in Germany with FC Augsburg of the Bundesliga, after four seasons for Roda JC in the top-level Dutch Eredivisie, suffered a ruptured Achilles in training camp last year. It was thought to be season-ending but de Jong defied the medical odds by tenaciously fighting back to return late in the season. If any CPL player was looking forward to this season, it was de Jong.

“This is tough, especially after last year,” said the three-season Major League Soccer defender with the Vancouver Whitecaps.

“But this COVID-19 situation is unprecedented. Yet, it’s reality, and it’s scary watching the news. Health is what matters most. We don’t want this to escalate in B.C. to what we are seeing in Italy and Spain.”

The CPL, of course, isn’t alone. Nearly every sports league in the world has been affected.

“It’s been eerie,” said de Jong.

“Because of time zones, you used to come home and watch the Bundesliga and other European pro football leagues on TV, but nobody is currently playing.”

With team or group practice sessions banned, athletes around the world are in self-training mode. Even that has its restrictions.

“You can’t do much with parks and fields closed,” added de Jong.

“So you have to improvise. I’m doing a lot of running and jogging outside by myself.”

Not to mention keeping in touch with fans — from an online distance, of course — during this extraordinary time.

cdheensaw@timescolonist.com

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